Teacher resource center for YWP's community storytelling program

My Community Story

A way to bring storytelling into your classroom

 

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live." 

Joan Didion

 

"I write now because I have to ..."

Tyler Harris, longtime YWP participant

 

 

Storytelling, the essence of good writing and expression, can now be a part of your students' experience.

Young Writers Project, drawing from the ideas of youths, teachers and experts in writing and digital media, is excited to offer you a new storytelling program for your classroom, a complement to your regular curriculum that will help you engage your students in writing and help them explore what interests them in the world around them: their communities -- the people, places, events and issues that shape their lives. 

YWP provides you the tools you need to help your students practice writing, give and receive feedback, use digital media and create stories small and big. You will help them gain voice -- the skills and confidence needed to express themselves with clarity and power.  It is accessible to students in grades 5-12 of all skill ranges.  

For just $250*,  you will be provided:

  • An easy-to-use digital classroom website of your own -- much like this one -- where you and your students can privately share work created in regular free-writes, in response to community story challenges or as part of your own curriculum if you wish. 
  • Content: challenges (exercises) and resources designed to progressively get students to go deeper with storytelling, research, digital media and editing. 
  • Support -- both technical and content-oriented -- from experts with Young Writers Project, a small, award-winning nonprofit based in Vermont that has, since 2006, connected with 100,000+ youths, partnered with 2,000 teachers and published best work of 17,000 youths.
Log into this site as guest (password: guest) to view some of the content that will be available to you.


Questions? Contact Geoff Gevalt, founding director, Young Writers Project: ggevalt@youngwritersproject.org; (802) 324-9537

Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, Kevin Huang, Burlington, VT 
 

 

How it works

Want to see more? Sign onto this site as guest (password: guest) to get a look at the content that is available.

When you sign up for this program, YWP will build your site (it will look much like this one), give you full access to this site so you can see and import to your own site any challenges or resources you want and provide you ongoing support. 

And you will soon have the option of diving into this program and gain licensure and/or Master's degree credits with a yearlong, two- or three-credit course being offered. (This can be audited remotely for licensure credit.)

Teachers who HAVE signed up

Log in to see and access support content. (Use the same credentials you were first given for your own digital classroom site.)

  • Click Challenges to comb through exercises (or assignments, but we call them challenges)  in idea-storming, research, interviewing, feedback, editing, digital media, polish and audience.
  • When you find one you want to use in your digital classroom site, click the title for full version and then click the NODE EXPORT tab.
  • You can do one of two things... Copy the code (select all and copy) or you can click the download button.
  • GO TO YOUR SITE, log in and in the menu bar, under Create, click IMPORT CHALLENGE or RESOURCE. Follow instructions for either pasting in the code you copied or uploading the file you downloaded.
  • You can do the same steps for Resources.
  • ALSO, Click CALENDAR to keep track of upcoming video conferences on the technical aspects of your sites or on the content of your work and Click NEWS for updates about the program, links to cool examples, etc.
  • Have fun! Questions? Email Geoffrey Gevalt
Teachers who have NOT signed up

For an annual fee of $250 per teacher (per site), YWP provides:

  • A website like this to use as a digital classroom. Intuitive, private, easy to use, this site will help organize and execute your community storytelling project and allow you to do just about any writing or digital media exercise with your students that you want. The site is designed for students to have fun, give each other feedback, share whatever they'd like and make it easy for you -- and them -- to see and comment on each other's work. More details below.
  • Full storytelling curriculum that you can export from here anytime you'd like and for use in anyway you'd like. Use it on its own, edit it or combine it with other challenges in a workshop, a collection of sequential challenges intended to help students create larger finished projects.
  • Technical and content support throughout the year. We'll help you get your site up and running and help you in those first few weeks when you are getting used to the site (though we have to say that it's really easy to use. Video conferences on technical aspects and content will take place at various times each month to help, but you can feel free to contact us whenever you have a problem.
  • Want to see more? Log in as guest with passkey of guest to view the available content on this site. Once you've signed up we will provide you a new account here that will allow you to fully access and export the curriculum. 
  • Want to sign up? Click here. Questions? Email Geoffrey Gevalt.

*THE FINE PRINT: YWP recognizes that school budgets are tight, that you don't have much discretionary money, that you may already be using a digital classroom platform you like or that you may just want our platform and not the My Community Story content. YWP is a non-profit and we believe that $250 covers our costs; however, YWP is more than willing to work out a fee and service program that works for you: Scholarships are available for the full My Community Story program -- contact Geoff Gevalt; the fee will be $100 if you want the platform but not the My Community Story program; $50 if you just wish access to this content (the guest/guest account will soon be disabled) to cut and paste in your digital classrooms. If you take the YWP My Community Story Practicum -- a Master's credit course (it can be audited) -- the program is included.  

 
 
The storytelling content

This evolving content for use in your classroom -- powerful challenges tested by teachers and youths and support resources -- is designed to help students find and explore ideas that interest them, delve into research, comment on each other's work, revise (and later polish), use digital media and find external audience. This curriculum will be expanding during the year as YWP enlists a variety of experts to add to the challenges and resources available. Some of that content will arise from questions -- or requests -- that come from you.

The program allows you to:

  • Create your own challenges -- one- or two-step prompts -- to get students started with idea development, research, digital media or polish. 
  • Import (very easy) to your own site any or all of the challenges housed here; each of the challenges are focused on storytelling and have been designed by YWP and teachers.
  • Group any challenges into a workshop to provide sequential steps to a more complex finished project. (An example is the starter workshop for the My Community -- Getting Started which will also be included in your initial digital classroom website.) 
  • Import any or all of the resources housed here to your own site; these tips, examples, studies, etc. are specifically created to help support the storytelling challenges.
  • Import YWP's daily challenges from https://youngwritersproject.org/challenges (you must log into both this site and youngwritersproject.org to access the material for export/import.)
  • Give your students access to the YWP Academy, a collection of short, fun workshops of varying levels in writing, digital media and issues on youngwritersproject.org:  https://youngwritersproject.org/academy
Why the digital platform is special

This platform is intended to supplement what you normally use -- though it can serve as your primary digital classroom. While we appreciate that learning another platform is not optimum, this platform is EASY to use, can be a space for practicing writing/digital media and has some very cool features:

  • Easy access to your students' work: student responses are automatically grouped and displayed by challenge -- students merely click the RESPOND button at the bottom of each challenge to post their work and to see work, just click the challenge. There are additional ways to easily access work by student name or challenge.
  • Easy commenting -- using text OR directly record audio comments -- on individual posts. 
  • Revision history so the post's author and you can view and compare changes made in a post.
  • Post private annotations within the body of a student's work that only the student can see. 
  • Send a private message to a student, a student can reply and also send a message to you. (There is no student-to-student messaging.)
  • Fully integrate digital media  including drag-and-drop upload of multiple photos to create a slideshow; upload or direct recording of audio onto a post; commenting, audio commenting, embedded video (copy embed code from video display site).
    • INCLUDING integration with Google Drive to allow you to upload pdfs from your Google Drive (slides, docs and spreadsheets) OR upload standard Microsoft documents -- documents, spreadsheets, PDFs and Power Point slide shows -- and save them to your Google Drive.
  • Download student work for import to her/his portfolio.
  • Print, create PDF or email any content from the site in clean, nice-looking format.
  • Import challenges from both https://mycommunity.ywpvt.org AND https://youngwritersproject.org (you have to sign into both sites; this site requires payment; youngwritersproject.org is free)
  • A classroom calendar is integrated into deadline dates you select for challenges.

Think of this as a complement to your curriculum

This powerful program combines key elements to help you engage your students in writing: idea development, storytelling, peer-to-peer commenting, privacy, digital media and the potential for external audience. Past surveys of students using these spaces have shown they work harder, perform better and gain a greater understanding, and appreciation, of their classmates. And you'll be amazed at how much you learn about each of your students.

And have fun.